History See Ya Later Ranch

Located in the Okanagan Valley near the south end of Skaha lake and nearly two thousand feet above sea level, See Ya Later Ranch is the highest elevation vineyard in the Okanagan Valley. It has a most interesting history and a uniqueness in its name.

The wines of See Ya Later Ranch celebrate the lively legacy of Major Hugh Fraser, a colourful character who purchased the property high above the Okanagan Valley in 1919. Born in Montreal in 1885, Hugh Fraser graduated from McGill University in 1912 and was an accountant until the outbreak of war in 1914. He enlisted immediately and was stationed in France until he was captured by German troops in 1916. When Armistice was signed in 1918 Major Fraser was released from his prisoner-of-war camp. He returned to Canada and accepted an invitation from a friend, Naramata playwright C. C. Atkins, to visit the Okanagan. He loved the wild, scenic valley — it was a perfect fit for his outgoing personality — and he soon purchased the Hawthorne Ranch. It was here near the town of Okanagan Falls he planted vines and seeded a legend.

The ranch was his home for more than 45 years, each year adding to a rich mix of truth and fiction involving elaborate gatherings, plenty of dogs and a wife from London, who upon seeing the rustic surroundings left both the Valley and a three-word note: “See ya later.” Although there are no public records to confirm the Major actually ever married, the story goes that he adopted his bride’s parting note as a light-hearted closing comment on all of his personal correspondence, and that he even named the ranch after it. Known to all in the valley as a single, childless man content to spend most of his life with his canine companions, the Major became a favourite among the locals. He had a kind nature, threw lavish parties and loved dogs of all shapes and sizes, although according to locals, Scotch collies were one of his favourite breeds. His many four-legged friends were given free run of the ranch and were ultimately laid to rest in a doggy cemetery that today’s visitors can explore.

The old was built in the 1930’s when the ranch was owned by Major Hugh Fraser. It was the site of local barn dances over the years.
The barn was last used approximately 18 years ago for a wedding celebration.

The Major lived at the ranch until 1966 before moving 24 kilometres (15 miles) north to Penticton, where he became active in community projects. He was a patron of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) and served as its president for five years, and was also a director of the Penticton chapter of the Red Cross for 10 years. The Major passed away in 1970 at the age of 85. Unfortunately, with no immediate family in the area, most of his possessions and treasures did not remain in the valley, although some of his prized belongings were donated to the Penticton Museum.

LeComte winery began on Hawthorne Mountain near Okanagan Falls Albert LeComte, a Saskatchewan-born sign company owner from Vancouver, bought the ranch in 1983. He converted the old dairy barn on the property for wine production and opened LeComte Estate Winery in 1986. One of his initial labels was a red blend called Count Bergerac.  He was a self made winemaker. Albert like his red Hybrids especially Seible. His most successful wine was a 1986 Chelois. By 1990s Gewürztraminer became the main grape of the vineyards

Sold to Harry McWatters in 1995 who renamed it Hawthorn Mountain. Today the winery is owned by Constellation Brands and is called See Ya Later. LeComte was founded by Albert LeComte.

Going even farther back the first know owners of the property were the (1909) Hawthorne Brothers Sam and George. They used the land for framing.

These days, visitors love See Ya Later Ranch for its well-crafted VQA wines served in an unbeatable setting. The tasting room and wine shop (open year round) are located in the Major’s 1900s home - made of the original hand-split stone - while the patio is the perfect perch to sip a glass of wine and take in the view of the surrounding valley, vineyards and lakes. From July to October (weather permitting), the Patio Restaurant dishes up casual, elegant food made to match the award-winning wines of See Ya Later Ranch. In a nod to the Major’s lifetime of canine companionship, the winery welcomes four-legged family members, with a Barking Lot for them to play in and a host of doggie gift shop items. Dog lovers will also get a kick out of the Major’s pet cemetery, where each of his favourite pets was given a grand burial and a headstone to celebrate its life. The oldest headstone marks “Jimmy My Pal,” who lived from 1917 to 1921. There are 12 headstones in total noting the passing of Ping, Rex, Nelly, Spud, Haggis and Eulita to name a few. His favourite pets, including Ping, Jimmy and Rex, were given engraved headstones. The last headstone is marked Rover, who was buried in 1962.

 

See Ya Later Ranch

In a nod to the Major’s lifetime of canine companionship, the winery welcomes four-legged family members, with a Barking Lot for them to play in and a host of doggie gift shop items. Dog lovers will also get a kick out of the Major’s pet cemetery, where each of his favourite pets was given a grand burial and a headstone to celebrate its life. The oldest headstone marks “Jimmy My Pal,” who lived from 1917 to 1921. There are 12 headstones in total noting the passing of Ping, Rex, Nelly, Spud, Haggis and Eulita to name a few. His favourite pets, including Ping, Jimmy and Rex, were given engraved headstones. The last headstone is marked Rover, who was buried in 1962.

In line with Major Fraser’s devotion, See Ya Later continues to support the BC SPCA. The winery has proudly donated more than $20,000 per year to the organization, including proceeds from the sale of Jimmy My Pal wine, with fifty cents from every bottle going directly to the organization. And on one day in September, the Ranch goes to the dogs, as it hosts the annual Dog Days of Summer party. Visitors and locals alike stream in with their furry friends to test out the new vintages and new wines; groomers, walkers and vets are on hand; pet photographers take snaps, and local vendors sell arts, crafts and doggie treats made exclusively for See Ya Later Ranch. All of the proceeds support the Okanagan Chapter BC SPCA.

Today if someone mentions See Ya Later Ranch they think of great wines and the winery with one of most outstanding views in the Okanagan. The tasting room and wine shop (open year round) are located in the Major’s 1900s home - made of the original hand-split stone - while the patio is the perfect perch to sip a glass of wine and take in the view of the surrounding valley, vineyards and lakes. From July to October (weather permitting), the Patio Restaurant dishes up casual, elegant food made to match the award-winning wines of See Ya Later Ranch.

 

In 2014, the 2012 Rover Shiraz-Viognier was given the first ever Premier's Wine Award at the Okanagan Fall Wine Festival's BC Wine Awards. Judged as the province's best wine, Rover also was one of only 5 BC wines, from 540 entered to win Platinum. This wine was made under the watch veteran winemaker, Dave Carson, who has just taken over the Jackson-Triggs VQA Okanagan portfolio. Check their website for more accolades.

David Saysomsack has taking over the reins. Born in Laos and raised in the farming community of Abbotsford, BC, Saysomsack's passion as a hobbyist winemaker spanned more than a decade.   Following his heart to pursue winemaking professionally, he headed back to school to complete an honours degree at Brock University in Oenology and Viticulture.

See Ya Later Ranch
2575 Green Lake Road ( 5 km off Highway 97)
Okanagan Falls, BC V0H 1R0

The original name for Okanagan Falls was Dog Town because it is on the south shore of Skaha Lake